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a bibliomaniac could pen.

"I, your Flaccus, according to your admonitions and good-will, administer
to some in the house of St. Martin, the sweets of the Holy Scriptures,
_Sanctarum mella Scripturarum_: others I inebriate with the study of
ancient wisdom; and others I fill with the fruits of grammatical lore.
Many I seek to instruct in the order of the stars which illuminate the
glorious vault of heaven; so that they may be made ornaments to the holy
church of God and the court of your imperial majesty; that the goodness
of God and your kindness may not be altogether unproductive of good. But
in doing this I discover the want of much, especially those exquisite
books of scholastic learning, which I possessed in my own country,
through the industry of my good and most devout master (Egbert). I
therefore intreat your Excellence to permit me to send into Britain some
of our youths to procure those books which we so much desire, and thus
transplant into France the flowers of Britain, that they may fructify and
perfume, not only the garden at York, but also the Paradise of Tours; and
that we may say, in the words of the song, '_Let my beloved come into his
garden and eat his pleasant fruit_;' and to the young, '_Eat, O friends;
drink, yea, drink, abundantly, O beloved_;' or exhort, in the words of
the prophet Isaiah, '_every one that thirsteth to come to the waters, and
ye that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price_.'

"Your Majesty is not ignorant how earnestly we are exhorted throughout
the Holy Scriptures to search after wisdom; nothing so tends to the
attainment of a happy life; nothing more delightful or more powerful in
resisting vice; nothing more honorable to an exalted dignity; and,
according to philosophy, nothing more needful to a just government of a
people. Thus Solomon exclaims, '_Wisdom is better than rubies, and all
the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it_.' It
exalteth the humble with sublime honors. '_By wisdom kings reign and
princes decree justice: by me princes rule; and nobles, even all the
judges of the earth. Blessed are they that keep my ways, and blessed is
the man that heareth me._' Continue, then, my Lord King, to exhort the
young in the palaces of your highness to earnest pursuit in acquiring
wisdom; that they may be honored in their old age, and ultimately enter
into a blessed immortality. I shall truly, according to my ability,
continue to sow in those parts the seeds of wisdom among your servants;
remembering the command, '_In the morning sow thy seed, and in the
evening withhold not thine hand._' In my youth I sowed the seeds of
learning in the prosperous seminaries of Britain; and now, in my old age,
I am doing so in France without ceasing, praying that the grace of God
may bless them in both countries."[278]

Such was the enthusiasm, such the spirit of bibliomania, which actuated
the monks of those _bookless_ days; and which was fostered with such
zealous care by Alcuin, in the cloisters of St. Martin of Tours. He
appropriated one of the apartments of the monastery for the transcription
of books, and called it the _museum_, in which constantly were employed a
numerous body of industrious scribes: he presided over them himself, and
continually exhorted them to diligence and care; to guard against the
inadvertencies of unskilful copyists, he wrote a small work on
orthography. We cannot estimate the merits of this essay, for only a
portion of it has been preserved; but in the fragment printed among his
works, we can see much that might have been useful to the scribes, and
can believe that it must have tended materially to preserve the purity of
ancient texts. It consists of a catalogue of words closely resembling
each other, and consequently requiring the utmost care in

In these pleasing labors Alcuin was assisted by many of the most learned
men of the time, and especially by Arno, Archbishop of Salzburgh, in
writing to whom Alcuin exclaims, "O that I could suddenly translate my
_Abacus_, and with my own hands quickly embrace your fraternity with that
warmth which cannot be compressed in books. Nevertheless, because I
cannot conveniently come, I send more frequently my unpolished letters
(_rusticitatis meæ litteras_) to thee, that they may speak for me instead
of the words of my mouth." This Arno, to whom he thus affectionately
writes, was no despicable scholar; he was a true lover of literature, and
proved himself something of an _amator librorum_, by causing to be
transcribed or bought for his use, 150 volumes,[280] but about this
period the bookloving mania spread far and wide - the Emperor himself was
touched with the enthusiasm; for, besides his choice private
collections,[281] he collected together the ponderous writings of the
holy fathers, amounting to upwards of 200 volumes, bound in a most
sumptuous manner, and commanded them to be deposited in a public temple
and arranged in proper order, so that those who could not purchase such
treasures might be enabled to feast on the lore of the ancients. Thus did
bibliomania flourish in the days of old.

But I must not be tempted to remain longer in France, though the names of
many choice old book collectors would entice me to do so. When I left
England, to follow the steps of Alcuin, I was speaking of York, which
puts me in mind of the monastery of Whitby,[282] in the same shire, on
the banks of the river Eske. It was founded by Hilda, the virgin daughter
of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin, about the year 680, who was its first
abbess. Having put her monastery in regular order, Hilda set an
illustrious example of piety and virtue, and particularly directed all
under her care to a constant reading of the holy Scriptures. After a long
life of usefulness and zeal she died deeply lamented by the Saxon
Church,[283] an event which many powerful miracles commemorated.

In the old times of the Saxons the monastery of Whitby was renowned for
its learning; and many of the celebrated ecclesiastics of the day
received their instruction within its walls. The most interesting
literary anecdote connected with the good lady Hilda's abbacy, is the
kind reception she gave to the Saxon poet Cædmon, whose paraphrase of the
Book of Genesis has rendered his name immortal. He was wont to make
"pious and religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out
of Scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expression of much
sweetness and humility in English, which was his native language. By his
verses the minds of many were often excited to despise the world and to
aspire to heaven. Others after him attempted in the English nation to
compose religious poems, but none could ever compare with him, _for he
did not learn the art of poetry from man but from God_."[284] He was
indeed, as the venerable Bede says, a poet of nature's own teaching:
originally a rustic herdsman, the sublime gift was bestowed upon him by
inspiration, or as it is recorded, in a dream. As he slept an unknown
being appeared, and commanded him to sing. Cædmon hesitated to make the
attempt, but the apparition retorted, "Nevertheless, thou shalt
sing - sing the origin of things." Astonished and perplexed, our poet
found himself instantaneously in possession of the pleasing art; and,
when he awoke, his vision and the words of his song were so impressed
upon his memory, that he easily repeated them to his wondering
companions.[285] He hastened at day-break to relate these marvels and to
display his new found talents to the monks of Whitby, by whom he was
joyfully received, and as they unfolded the divine mysteries, "The good
man," says Bede, "listened like a clean animal ruminating; and his song
and his verse were so winsome to hear, that his teachers wrote them down,
and learned from his mouth."[286]

Some contend that an ancient manuscript in the British Museum is the
original of this celebrated paraphrase.[287] It is just one of those
choice relics which a bibliomaniac loves to handle, but scarcely perhaps
bears evidence of antiquity so remote. It is described in the catalogue
as, "The substance of the Book of Genesis, with the Acts of Moses and
Joshua, with brief notes and annotations, part in Latin and part in Saxon
by Bede and others." The notes, if by Bede, would tend to favor the
opinion that it is the original manuscript, or, at any rate, coeval with
the Saxon bard. The volume, as a specimen of calligraphic art, reflects
honor upon the age, and is right worthy of Lady Hilda's monastery. There
are 312[288] fine velum pages in this venerable and precious volume,
nearly every one of which dazzles with the talent of the skilful
illuminator. The initial letters are formed, with singular taste and
ingenuity, of birds, beasts, and flowers. To give an idea of the nature
of these pictorial embellishments - which display more splendor of
coloring than accuracy of design - I may describe the singular
illumination adorning the sixth page, which represents the birth of Eve.
Adam is asleep, reclining on the grass, which is depicted as so many
inverted cones; and, if we may judge from the appearance of our venerable
forefather, he could not have enjoyed a very comfortable repose on that
memorable occasion, and the grass which grew in the Garden of Paradise
must have been of a very stubborn nature when compared with the earth's
verdure of the present day; for the weight of Adam alters not the
position of the tender herb, which supports his huge body on their
extreme summits. As he is lying on the left side Eve is ascending from a
circular aperture in his right; nor would the original, if she bore any
resemblance to her monkish portraiture, excite the envy or the admiration
of the present age, or bear comparison with her fair posterity. Her
physiognomy is anything but fascinating, and her figure is a repulsive
monstrosity, _adorned_ with a profusion of luxurious hair of a brilliant

It is foreign to our subject to enter into any analysis of the literary
beauties of this poem; let it suffice that Cædmon, the old Saxon
herdsman, has been compared to our immortal Milton; and their names have
been coupled together when speaking of a poet's genius.[289] But on other
grounds Cædmon claims a full measure of our praise. Not only was he the
"Father of Saxon poetry," but to him also belongs the inestimable honor
of being the first who attempted to render into the vulgar tongue the
beauties and mysteries of the Holy Scriptures; he unsealed what had
hitherto been a sealed book; his paraphrase is the first translation of
the holy writ on record. So let it not be forgotten that to this Milton
of old our Saxon ancestors were indebted for this invaluable treasure. We
are unable to trace distinctly the formation of the monastic library of
Whitby. But of the time of Richard, elected abbot in the year 1148, a
good monk, and formerly prior of Peterborough, we have a catalogue of
their books preserved. I would refer the reader to that curious
list,[290] and ask him if it does not manifest by its contents the
existence of a more refined taste in the cloisters than he gave the old
monks credit for. It is true, the legends of saints abound in it; but
then look at the choice tomes of a classic age, whose names grace that
humble catalogue, and remember that the studies of the Whitby monks were
divided between the miraculous lives of holy men, and the more pleasing
pages of the "Pagan Homer," the eloquence of Tully, and the wit of
Juvenal, of whose subject they seemed to have been fond; for they read
also the satires of Persius. I extract the names of some of the authors
contained in this monkish library:

Rabanus Maurus.
Gregory Nazianzen.
Guido on Music.
Diadema Monachorum.

Come, the monks evidently read something besides their _Credo_, and
transcribed something better than "monastic trash." A little taste for
literature and learning we must allow they enjoyed, when they formed
their library of such volumes as the above. I candidly admit, that when I
commenced these researches I had no expectations of finding a collection
of a hundred volumes, embracing so many choice works of old Greece and
Rome. It is pleasant, however, to trace these workings of bibliomania in
the monasteries; and it is a surprise quite agreeable and delicious in
itself to meet with instances like the present.

At a latter period the monastery of Rievall, in Yorkshire, possessed an
excellent library of 200 volumes. This we know by a catalogue of them,
compiled by one of the monks about the middle of the fourteenth century,
and now preserved in the library of Jesus College, Cambridge.[291] A
transcript of this manuscript was made by Mr. Halliwell, and published in
his "Reliqua Antiqua,"[292] from which it may be seen that the Rievall
monastery contained at that time many choice and valuable works. The
numerous writings of Sts. Augustine, Bernard, Anselm, Cyprian, Origin,
Haimo, Gregory, Ambrose, Isidore, Chrysostom, Bede, Aldhelm, Gregory
Nazienzen, Ailred, Josephus, Rabanus Maurus, Peter Lombard, Orosius,
Boethius, Justin, Seneca, with histories of the church of Britain, of
Jerusalem, of King Henry, and many others equally interesting and costly,
prove how industriously they used their pens, and how much they
appreciated literature and learning. But in the fourteenth century the
inhabitants of the monasteries were very industrious in transcribing
books at a period coeval with the compilation of the Rievall catalogue, a
monk of Coventry church was plying his pen with unceasing energy; John de
Bruges wrote with his own hand thirty-two volumes for the library of the
benedictine priory of St. Mary.

The reader will see that there is little among them worthy of much
observation. The MS. begins, "These are the books which John of Bruges,
monk of Coventry, wrote for the Coventry church. Any who shall take them
away from the church without the consent of the convent, let him be

In primis, ymnarium in grossa littera.
Halmo upon Isaiah.
A Missal for the Infirmary.
A Missal.
Duo missalia domini Prioris Rogeris, scilicet collectas cum secretis
et postcommunione.
A Benedictional for the use of the same prior.
Another Benedictional for the use of the convent.
Librum cartarum.
Martyrologium, Rule of St. Benedict and Pastoral, in one volume.
Liber cartarum.
A Graduale, with a Tropario, and a Processional.
Psaltar for Prior Roger.
Palladium de Agricultura.
Librum experimentorum, in quo ligatur compotus Helprici.
A book containing Compotus manualis et Merlin, etc.
An Ordinal for the Choir.
Tables for the Martyrology.
Kalendarium mortuorum.
Table of Responses.
Capitular for Prior Roger.
A Reading Book.
A book of Decretals.
Psalter for the monks in the infirmary.
Generationes Veteris et Novi Testamenti; ante scholasticam hystoriam
et ante Psalterium domini Anselmi.
Pater noster.
An Ordinal.
Tables for Peter Lombard's Sentences.
Tables for the Psalter.
Book of the Statutes of the Church.
Verses on the praise of the blessed Mary.

The priory of St. Mary's was founded by Leofricke, the celebrated Earl of
Mercia and his good Lady Godiva, in the year 1042. "Hollingshead says
that this Earl Leofricke was a man of great honor, wise, and discreet in
all his doings. His high wisdome and policie stood the realme in great
steed whilst he lived.... He had a noble ladie to his wife named Gudwina,
at whose earnest sute he made the citie of Couentrie free of all manner
of toll except horsses, and to haue that toll laid downe also, his
foresaid wife rode naked through the middest of the towne without other
couerture, saue onlie her haire. Moreouer partlie moued by his owne
deuotion and partlie by the persuasion of his wife, he builded or
beneficiallie augmented and repared manie abbeies and churches as the
saide abbie or priorie at Couentrie - the abbeies of Wenlocke, Worcester,
Stone, Evesham, and Leot, besides Hereford."

The church of Worcester, which the good Earl had thus "beneficiallie
augmented," the Saxon King Offa had endowed with princely munificence
before him. In the year 780, during the time of Abbot Tilhere, or
Gilhere, Offa gave to the church Croppethorne, Netherton, Elmlege
Cuddeshe, Cherton, and other lands, besides a "large Bible with two
clasps, made of the purest gold."[294] In the tenth century the library
of Exeter Church was sufficiently extensive to require the preserving
care of an amanuensis; for according to Dr. Thomas, Bishop Oswald granted
in the year 985 three hides of land at Bredicot, one yardland at
Ginenofra, and seven acres of meadow at Tiberton, to Godinge a monk, on
condition of his fulfilling the duties of a librarian to the see, and
transcribing the registers and writings of the church. It is said that
the scribe Godinge wrote many choice books for the library.[295] I do not
find any remarkable book donation, save now and then a volume or two, in
the annals of Worcester Church; nor have I been able to discover any old
parchment catalogue to tell of the number or rarity of their books; for
although probably most monasteries had one compiled, being enjoined to do
so by the regulations of their order, they have long ago been destroyed;
for when we know that fine old manuscripts were used by the bookbinders
after the Reformation, we can easily imagine how little value would be
placed on a mere catalogue of names.

But to return again to Godiva, that illustrious lady gave the monks,
after the death of her lord, many landed possessions, and bestowed upon
them the blessings of a library.[296]

Thomas Cobham, who was consecrated Bishop of Worcester in the year 1317,
was a great "_amator librorum_," and spent much time and money in
collecting books. He was the first who projected the establishment of a
public library at Oxford, which he designed to form over the old
Congregation House in the churchyard of St. Mary's, but dying soon after
in the year 1327, the project was forgotten till about forty years after,
when I suppose the example of the great bibliomaniac Richard de Bury drew
attention to the matter; for his book treasures were then "deposited
there, and the scholars permitted to consult them on certain

Bishop Carpenter built a library for the use of the monastery of Exeter
Church, in the year 1461, over the charnal house; and endowed it with £10
per annum as a salary for an amanuensis.[298] But the books deposited
there were grievously destroyed during the civil wars; for on the
twenty-fourth of September, 1642, when the army under the Earl of Essex
came to Worcester, they set about "destroying the organ, breaking in
pieces divers beautiful windows, wherein the foundation of the church was
lively historified with painted glass;" they also "rifled the library,
with the records and evidences of the church, tore in pieces the Bibles
and service books pertaining to the quire."[299] Sad desecration of
ancient literature! But the reader of history will sigh over many such

The registers of Evesham Monastery, near Worcester, speak of several
monkish bibliophiles, and the bookish anecdotes relating to them are
sufficiently interesting to demand some attention here. Ailward, who was
abbot in the year 1014, gave the convent many relics and ornaments, and
what was still better a quantity of books.[300] He was afterwards
promoted to the see of London, over which he presided many years; but age
and infirmity growing upon him, he was anxious again to retire to
Evesham, but the monks from some cause or other were unwilling to receive
him back; at this he took offence, and seeking in the monastery of Ramsey
the quietude denied him there, he demanded back all the books he had
given them.[301] His successor Mannius was celebrated for his skill in
the fine arts, and was an exquisite worker in metals, besides an
ingenious scribe and illuminator. He wrote and illuminated with his own
hand, for the use of his monastery, a missal and a large Psalter.[302]

Walter, who was abbot in the year 1077, gave also many books to the
library,[303] and among the catalogue of sumptuous treasures with which
Reginald, a succeeding abbot, enriched the convent, a great textus or
gospels, with a multitude of other books, _multa alia libros_, are
particularly specified.[304] Almost equally liberal were the choice gifts
bestowed upon the monks by Adam (elected A. D. 1161); but we find but
little in our way among them, except a fine copy of the "Old and New
Testament with a gloss." No mean gift I ween in those old days; but one
which amply compensated for the deficiency of the donation in point of
numbers. But all these were greatly surpassed by a monk whom it will be
my duty now to introduce; and to an account of whose life and
bibliomanical propensities, I shall devote a page or two. Like many who
spread a lustre around the little sphere of their own, and did honor,
humbly and quietly to the sanctuary of the church in those Gothic days,
he is unknown to many; and might, perhaps, have been entirely forgotten,
had not time kindly spared a document which testifies to his piety and
book-collecting industry. The reader will probably recollect many who, by
their shining piety and spotless life, maintained the purity of the
Christian faith in a church surrounded by danger and ignorance, and many
a bright name, renowned for their virtue or their glory of arms, who
flourished during the early part of the thirteenth century; but few have
heard of a good and humble monk named Thomas of Marleberg. Had
circumstances designed him for a higher sphere, had affairs of state, or
weighty duties of an ecclesiastical import, been guided by his hand, his
name would have been recorded with all the flourish of monkish adulation;
but the learning and the prudence of that lowly monk was confined to the
little world of Evesham; and when his earthly manes were buried beneath
the cloisters within the old convent walls, his name and good deeds were
forgotten by the world, save in the hearts of his fraternity.

"But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumph'd, is forgot."

In a manuscript in the Cotton Library there is a document called "The
good deeds of Prior Thomas," from which the following facts have been

From this interesting memorial of his labors, we learn that Thomas had
acquired some repute among the monks for his great knowledge of civil and
canon law; so that when any difficulty arose respecting the claims or
privileges of the monastery, or when any important matter was to be
transacted, his advice was sought and received with deference and
respect. Thus three years after his admission the bishop of Worcester
intimated his intention of paying the monastery a visitation; a practice
which the bishops of that see had not enforced since the days of abbot
Alurie. The abbot and convent however considered themselves free from the
jurisdiction of the bishop; and acting on the advice of Thomas of
Marleberg, they successfully repulsed him. The affair was quite an event,
and seems to have caused much sensation among them at the time; and is
mentioned to show with what esteem Thomas was regarded by his monkish
brethren. After a long enumeration of "good works" and important
benefactions, such as rebuilding the tower and repairing the convent, we
are told that "In the second year of Randulp's abbacy, Thomas, then dean,
went with him to Rome to a general council, where, by his prudence and
advice, a new arrangement in the business of the convent rents was
confirmed, and many other useful matters settled." Here I am tempted to
refer to the _arrangements_, for they offer pleasing illustrations of the
monk as an "_amator librorum_." Mark how his thoughts dwelt - even when
surrounded by those high dignitaries of the church, and in the midst of
that important council - on the library and the scriptorium of his

"_To the Prior belongs the tythes of Beningar the both great and
small, to defray the expenses of procuring parchment, and to
procure manuscripts for transcription._"

And in another clause it is settled that

"_To the Office of the Precentor belongs the Manner of Hampton,
from which he will receive five shillings annually, besides ten

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